Free COVID-19 testing available Nov. 23-24, registration preferred

by Karen Burbach, UNMC strategic communications | November 19, 2020

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Editor's note: All testing slots for the days of Nov. 23 and 24 are now full. There will be no walk-in testing.

UNMC faculty, staff and students on the Omaha campus may register now for a free COVID-19 test prior to Thanksgiving.

Tests, designed for individuals who are not experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, will take place in the Center for Healthy Living gymnasium from 8 to 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 23 and 24.

Participants are asked to:

  • Register online for a timeslot (Faculty, staff and students are urged to register in advance to reserve a time slot and ensure adequate numbers of test kits are available; walk-ins will be accommodated whenever possible and as supplies permit);
  • Bring their ID badge;
  • Enter the CFHL through the southeast doors;
  • Follow campus safety protocols of wearing a mask, social distancing and self-screening with the 1-Check app upon entrance. Individuals who are experiencing symptoms consistent with possible COVID infection (fever, cough, difficulty breathing, loss of sense of smell or taste), should not be tested at this site. Instead, go home, self-isolate and contact the Student Health (402-559-7204) or Employee Health (402-552-3563) Clinic, as applicable, for further guidance and testing.

"We are especially encouraging those who plan to leave town to gather with family or friends to get screened," said Ted Cieslak, MD, interim executive director for health security at UNMC. "They will get their results within a day and, assuming they test negative, can enjoy their Thanksgiving holiday with some peace of mind."

A nose swab process will be used instead of the more intrusive deep nasopharyngeal test, Dr. Cieslak said. Individuals will have the option of swabbing their own noses or having a nurse perform the swabbing.

As a reminder, a negative test is not a free pass to disregard public health protocols. A negative COVID-19 test is a snapshot in time and is not representative of the hours and days that follow. Individuals should continue to wear a face mask, social distance, limit crowds, self-screen with the 1-Check app and wash their hands frequently.

Individuals who test positive should contact Student Health or Employee Health for further guidance, including how best to self-isolate so as not to further transmit the virus. Students who test positive may arrange for food deliveries through the UNMC/UNO Food Pantry.

The on-campus testing is made possible by members of the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory and nurses from the Biocontainment Unit. At any time, individuals can choose to be tested anywhere else in the region or when they return to their home communities -- costs may apply. Contact Student Health or Employee Health if you have any questions.

Mark Rupp, MD, an infectious diseases expert at UNMC, outlines what you should consider this holiday season.

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